October 13, 2022

QB Index: Fan vote reignites Collaros-Rourke debate

The Canadian Press

The QB Index is a weekly power ranking of quarterbacks across the CFL, voted on by CFL.ca staff. The ranking reflects recent performance, historical value, statistical indicators, team success and overall on-field evaluation. 

TORONTO — The first glance at early results from the CFL All-Star fan vote have shown just how unique it can be.

As someone that’s had a vote in the media/coaches portion of All-Star selection over the years, Nathan Rourke‘s presence in these early returns is a little shocking to me. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it — he was on an MOP-worthy pace before he was injured — it’s just that he hasn’t played in seven weeks now, after undergoing surgery for his lisfranc injury in Week 12.

Just over a week into voting, Rourke has received the second-most votes among quarterbacks, just behind the reigning Most Outstanding Player, Zach Collaros.

To me, the Collaros-vs.-Rourke debate — something that promised to be an impactful one early on in the season — had unfortunately fizzled out when the Lions announced that Rourke would miss substantial time this season. The early results from the fan vote, along with some recent conversations with media members has me wondering if there’s some bigger-picture-voting-fire behind this smoke.

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QB INDEX OCT. 13, 2022
Ranking Name Team Last Week Movement
1. Zach Collaros WPG 1
2. Jake Maier CGY 2
3. McLeod Bethel-Thompson TOR 3
4. Trevor Harris MTL 4
5 Cody Fajardo SSK 5
6. Vernon Adams Jr. BC 7 +1
7. Dane Evans HAM 6 -1
8. Nick Arbuckle OTT 9 +1
9. Taylor Cornelius EDM 8 -1

Collaros has been the model of quarterback consistency this season, leading the Bombers to their second straight first place finish in the West Division. We may well see very little of him in the team’s final two games so the body of work as it stands now is a fair way to assess his season.

Collaros is currently second in the league in passing yards at 4,115, behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson. He’s made 301-431 passes (69.8 per cent accuracy, good for fifth among starting QBs), thrown a league-leading 35 passes, has thrown 13 interceptions (fourth-highest in the league) and his efficiency rating of 114.6 is second in the league among starters. Collaros will look to lead the Bombers to the CFL’s first three-peat championship since Edmonton was in the midst of its five-in-a-row run over 40 years ago.

Rourke’s stats through nine games and his place among quarterbacks at this point in the season are very impressive. He’s thrown for 3,281 yards, which is still sixth in the league, making 248-313 passes, for a league-leading 79.2 per cent completion rate among starters. His 25 touchdowns thrown are second to just Collaros and his efficiency rating of 125.1 remains the highest among starting QBs and is just under Ricky Ray‘s all-time record of 126.4, set in 2013.

Zach Collaros has been a model of consistency this season and through his entire tenure as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber (The Canadian Press)

What makes the fan vote interesting is first of all, fandom factoring into the process. Die hard Lions fans and freshly-created Rourke stans will have no problem standing behind Rourke’s exceptional half-season of play and giving him their votes.

My first thought on this was that media couldn’t possibly take a limited offering from a player with exceptional numbers and name them an All-Star, but it has happened, and not that far back either.

The aforementioned Ray had that record-setting season in 2013 while playing 11 games and starting in 10 of them. He threw for 2,878 yards with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He edged out Henry Burris for All-Star that year when Burris played in all 18 games for the Tiger-Cats and threw for 4,925 yards with 24 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

That’s not a verbatim case to this year’s situation, where Collaros is the face of a much more dominant team than either of the 11-win Argos or the 10-win Ticats, but it shows that it can happen.

We’ve all seen the video that came from Lions’ practice on Monday, of Rourke on the field, throwing the ball. If he were able to get back on the field for some of the Lions’ three final regular season games — something head coach Rick Campbell said wasn’t likely — would that be enough to sway more media voters in Rourke’s direction? Would it sway more fans?

A debate that fell dormant just as it was getting going feels like it’s starting to stir once again.

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